Crisis in Crimea - 6 March 2014
Tensions began on an elevated level as Crimea's parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of cutting ties with Ukraine. The majority vote opens the door for the peninsula to return to Russia's sphere of influence. A public vote will be held on 16 March which will ask citizens whether or not they wish to officially break ties with Ukraine. With what is believed to be a high pro-Russian population, the vote will be a key development in the high-pressure region.
Elsewhere, militaries across the West are slowly ramping up defenses. The US will send additional combat aircraft to countries bordering Russia repeating actions from the previous day.
Throughout the day Ukrainian leadership as well as its supporters vehemently reaffirmed that continued aggression by Russian governments will only end in serious consequences. America as well as European nations have begun installing sanctions against Russia with the promise of more sanctions looming.
Will Crimea split from Ukraine?
Key Events of 6 March
--Crimean parliament voted 78-0 in favor of becoming part of Russia. A referendum, which will be held 16 March, will ask voters whether or not they would prefer joining the Russian Federation or remain under Ukrainian rule as an autonomous republic. Crimean Vice Premier Rustam Teermirgaliev warned “any [opposition] troops will be considered to be armed groups with all the associated consequences.” The Vice Premier stated that he now considers Crimea to be apart of the Russian Federation. He also hinted that the Russian currency could soon be adopted. Officials from Kiev failed to recognize the vote calling it “illegitimate” and “unconstitutional.”
--In reaction to the vote, Refat Chubarov, leader of the Tatar minority in Crimea said “It is obvious that [Crimea’s parliament] is following somebody else’s wishes. Good sense has abandoned them."
--President Barak Obama denounced the referendum ruling and advised that it violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law. He asked that international observers be setup throughout all of Ukraine to ensure ethnic Russians are being treated fairly.
--Former British ambassador Michael Crawford warned if the vote on 16 March passes in favor of joining the Russian Federation it could lead Russia “to start cherry-picking bits of the former Soviet Union.”
--Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated “Ukraine will defend itself… Putin, tear down the wall of military intimidation immediately. We are ready for cooperation but not for surrender to be subordinate to Russia.”
Guarding the Gates
--11,000 self-defense troops have joined riot police in an attempt to block all land access to Crimea; so far, the blockade has been successful. There remain some Ukrainian-held military installments that have not surrendered, but all remain blockaded by unmarked troops.
--Protestors who stormed a government building in Donetsk on Wednesday have clashed with police leaving many people detained. According to the BBC, all demonstrators have been removed from the building and the Ukrainian flag has replaced the Russian flag for the second time in as many days.
-The 38 UN mediators who have been sent to Crimea to observe the actions of the unmarked military have been blocked by guards.
--Interpol released information regarding a request it received from Ukrainian officials. The request calls for the arrest of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and is charged with abuse of power and murder.
--According to Reuters, the US Navy announced that guided-missile destroyer, USS Truxton, is on its way to the Black Sea. The US claims the destroyer will join other countries within the region as part of a previously scheduled training mission.
--Polish media report that the US will send 12 F-16 fighter jets to the Lask base in central Poland. An additional 300 troops will join next week.
--The Russian Rouble and stock market continue to tumble. American markets continued to gain strength.
Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Continue Verbal Threats
--Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated “Ukraine will defend itself… Putin, tear down the wall of military intimidation immediately. We are ready for cooperation but not for surrender to be subordinate to Russia.”
--German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that Russia must work to disarm pro-Russian forces in Crimea. She reiterated the threat of sanctions should Russia fail to comply.
--Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that plans for Russian-speakers in foreign countries to receive Russian citizenship are in the works. Increased ease of Russian passport qualification Russian-speakers in foreign countries is also expected.
--The US announced increasing visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans believed of “threatening the sovereignty” of Ukraine. The US Treasury Department has been given legal rights to freeze assets of those involved in the crisis. Full economic sanctions have not been imposed.
Closing the Day
The crisis continued to become more delicate as ongoing talks between world leaders drew no workable conclusions. Although no shots have been fired, civilian protests and sabre-rattling are increased by the hour. Denials of government legitimacy are becoming commonplace and each side are drafting new laws in order to keep up with their respective claims.
Troop movements, although minor in number, have not ceased giving credit to the assumption that they will continue into the coming days.
Protestors remain powerful but have yet to have an effect on progressive legislation or on alternative outcomes.
Each side are taking incremental steps toward militarization but neither side appear to want the responsibility of moving first. In the coming days expect echoes to stir comparing this conflict to the Cold War.